Results tagged ‘ Braden Looper ’

Looper: Does he stay or does he go?

Brewers starter Braden Looper figures to face a difficult decision this winter when it comes time to act on his mutual option for 2010. With run support like this, how could he think about going anyplace else? 

Rookie shortstop Alcides Escobar set career highs with four hits and three RBIs, and the Brewers scored early and often to help Looper set his career high for wins in a 9-5 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Wednesday. 

Looper (13-6) had won 12 games in each of his first two seasons as a starter after making the first 563 appearances of his career in relief. He didn’t exactly cruise to lucky No. 13, allowing five runs on nine Cubs hits including Aramis Ramirez’s two-run home run in a three-run fifth inning. Looper escaped with the lead, and four Brewers relievers preserved it. 

“It’s nice to go out there and have the guys put runs on the board,” Looper said. “It definitely makes it easier, that’s for sure.” 

It’s happened for him a lot. The Brewers have scored at least six runs in eight of Looper’s 13 wins including Wednesday, when they jumped to a 5-0 lead against Cubs starter Rich Harden (9-9) after three innings and extended the lead to 9-2 in the fifth. Six different Brewers drove in a run including Looper, who scored Escobar with a single in the second inning. 

All Looper had to do was get through the bottom of the fifth to qualify for his milestone win, and it was a struggle. But he offered an explanation for his mid-inning struggles.

He was playing catch in the outfield at Wrigley Field on Tuesday during batting practice when a line drive struck him in the middle of the back.

“I got crushed,” he said. “My back started tightening up on me in the third inning [of Wednesday’s game], really bad. It was a battle. I was able to pitch through it. I felt really good until the third or the fourth inning and then it started getting tighter and tighter and tighter. 

“It’s frustrating because I felt so good at the beginning. I’ve been working on things with [pitching coach Chris Bosio] and I feel like I’m making improvements, and when something like that happens, it stinks.” 

Looper said his availability for Wednesday was never in doubt. 

“I wasn’t going to let that happen,” he said. 

It won’t be as painful as a line drive in the back, but Looper could face a tough decision this winter. Given their need for pitching, the Brewers almost certainly will exercise their half of Looper’s $6.5 million option for 2010, leaving him to decide whether to accept or to seek a multiyear deal on the open market. 

Looper insisted he’s not thinking about that just yet. 

“We’ll see. It’s not my decision right now, and until they [decide], I don’t have to do anything,” Looper said. “I really like it here, and this would be my first choice, for sure. You get to a place and you start to know the guys, you feel like a part of what’s going on. But you never know. The option gives me a little bit of leverage.” 

Report says Giants claimed Hoffman

The San Francisco Giants were the mystery team that claimed Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman off waivers in recent days, according to ESPN.com, perhaps a move to block a fellow contender with bullpen needs from adding baseball’s all-time saves leader via a trade.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has been uncharacteristically unavailable during the the past 24 hours, but said earlier in the week that he was unlikely to make a deal ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline for teams to acquire players and have them available for postseason rosters.

Still, the Brewers reportedly placed six veterans on waivers this week, a necessary step before making trades after the July 31 nonwaiver deadline. According to a FOXSports.com report, four of them cleared: Mike Cameron, Craig Counsell, Jason Kendall and Braden Looper. Hoffman appears to have been claimed, but the report made no mention of second baseman Felipe Lopez, another pending free agent who was exposed to waivers.

Lopez projects as a Type B free agent, meaning he would net the Brewers a compensatory pick in next year’s Draft if the team offers him arbitration but he declines and signs elsewhere. Hoffman projects as a Type A, so he could reap a pair of high picks. He turns 42 on Oct. 13.

Hoffman responds to waiver rumors

Trevor Hoffman would prefer to remain a Brewer, but conceded that Thursday that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could be traded to a contender before the end of the month.

“I don’t know,” Hoffman said. “We’re 12 out.”

As in, the Brewers remained 12 games behind division-leading St. Louis in the National League Central after getting swept by the Reds at Miller Park this week. Cincinnati finished its three-game sweep with an 8-5 win over the Brewers on Thursday, just as FOXSports.com reported that a rival club had claimed Hoffman off the waiver wire.

If true, the Brewers and the mystery team would have 48 hours to work out a trade. If the sides cannot strike an agreement, the Brewers would pull Hoffman back.

Hoffman said he had no idea whether the report was true, and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, who is technically barred from discussing waivers, did not return a pair of phone calls on Thursday.

“I’m starting to learn that this is part of it,” said Hoffman, who mostly avoided late-season waiver rumors during his 16-year tenure with the Padres. Players with at least 10 years of service time including five years with their current team have the right to refuse trades, and it was well understood that Hoffman had no desire to leave San Diego.

Now he’s on a one-year contract with the Brewers and faces the prospect of re-entering free agency at season’s end. As the FOXSports.com report suggested, a deal seems unlikely. Hoffman projects as a “Type A” free agent in the mysterious Elias rankings. That means that if the Brewers keep him for the rest of this year, offer him salary arbitration over the winter and then let him sign elsewhere, they would reap two compensatory picks in next year’s First-Year Player Draft before the end of the second round.

Since the claiming club is not likely to offer much in return for five weeks of Hoffman’s services, Melvin could be more inclined to hold out for the Draft picks.

Another hurdle, according to various recent reports that have speculated about Hoffman’s availability, could be baseball’s all-time saves leader’s desire to be a closer. Asked for his stance on Thursday, Hoffman said, “I’m not going to discuss any of that stuff.”

Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth inning in Wednesday’s extra-innings loss to the Reds and has been excellent in his first season away from San Diego in 16 years, posting a 1.85 ERA and 27 saves in 29 chances this year. But he has been gathering dust in the bullpen as the Brewers have fallen out of the pennant race, with only four save opportunities this month and only four appearances over the past two weeks.

“I’m about settling in,” Hoffman said. “I’ve been fortunate to have that comfort level here in Milwaukee from Day 1. Our focus is to try and climb back in this thing. I did say that we’re 12 out, but we have nine [games] left with St. Louis and Chicago is in the mix. We just got our starting rotation back. Hopefully, we can make a run. I’m a consummate optimist, and this is my team.”

Earlier this week, FOXSports.com reported that the Brewers had placed at least six players on waivers, a necessary step before making trades after July 31. Those players, according to the report, were Mike Cameron, Craig Counsell, Hoffman, Jason Kendall, Braden Looper and Felipe Lopez.

Cameron, Kendall, Looper and Lopez all project as “Type B” free agents who would net one compensatory Draft pick. Looper’s contract includes a mutual option for 2010 that the Brewers are likely to exercise. Counsell does not qualify for Draft compensation should he sign elsewhere next year. 

Earlier this week, Melvin expressed an unwillingness to trade away his veterans, even the Brewers have remained 10-12 games behind the first-place Cardinals in the National League Central.

“I can’t imagine that a team would give up a good player for one month, unless there is a key injury,” Melvin said Tuesday. “I don’t anticipate anything.”

"Sign" of frustration in Crew clubhouse?

After a 10-inning, 4-3 loss to the Reds on Wednesday, the Brewers’ second extra-inning letdown in as many nights, there was at least one sign of frustration in the clubhouse at Miller Park.

Coaches post the next day’s schedule on a board by the door, and this time it read, “Since we haven’t performed well in day games this season, let’s try something different tomorrow.” It called for an 11:30 a.m. “mandatory team stretch” and promised that, “Attendance will be taken!!!”

The Brewers are 15-25 in day games this season. Thursday’s series finale begins just after 1 p.m. CT.

The schedule had obviously been torn down and then taped back up. One by one, players did double-takes as they passed the posting before heading home for the night.

Braden Looper, who started Wednesday and took a tough-luck no-decision, insisted that players are all still pulling in the same direction.

“We played hard today and we played hard yesterday against a really good bullpen,” Looper said, referring to the first two games against the Reds. “I haven’t seen anybody quit, and that’s a positive thing about this team. We have a bunch of guys who are grinding it out.”

The Brewers dropped to 12 games behind the first-place Cardinals in the
National League Central with Wednesday’s loss.

“We haven’t looked at the
standings for a while,” said left fielder Ryan Braun, whose misplay in the 10th inning hurt the Brewers’ cause. “There’s no reason for us to focus on anything
like that. We just focus on ourselves. I think everybody here has
enough pride and integrity that we want to come out here and perform
every day to win as many games as possible. We recognize the situation
we’re in.”

Looper pitched with heavy heart tonight

The Brewers’ Braden Looper pitched seven innings for a win on Friday, and he was working with a heavy heart.

He beat the Reds at Miller Park hours after burying his grandfather, the man who gave him his middle name and his first baseball glove. LaVerne Looper was 84.

“He was kind of like my father,” Braden said after the Brewers’ 3-2 win. “He’s the one who got me started in baseball, so it was good to win the game today.”

He needed some help. Looper lost a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning when he issued a two-out walk to Ryan Hanigan, an in-game replacement for the injured Joey Votto, and Ramon Hernandez followed with a two-run home run. Corey Hart reclaimed the lead for Milwaukee in the bottom of the seventh inning with a solo home run.

Looper called Hart’s homer, “a gift.”

“I had to bury my grandfather yesterday, spoke at the funeral, and today to get the win, it’s special for me,” Looper said. “It’s one of the games I’ll remember for a long time, just because of that.”

Macha sets post-rainout rotation

Brewers manager Ken Macha made his upcoming pitching rotation official after a 1-0 win over the Cardinals on Saturday. Friday’s rainout forced him to juggle things a bit, but here is the plan:

Sunday at St. Louis: Manny Parra
Monday at St. Louis: Braden Looper
Tuesday at Houston: Dave Bush
Wednesday at Houston: Yovani Gallardo
Thursday at Houston: Jeff Suppan

Looper was originally supposed to pitch Tuesday and Bush had Wednesday, but both can bump up and still be starting on regular rest because Monday was supposed to be an off-day. Macha waited for the result of Looper’s bullpen session Saturday morning to make the decision official.

Gallardo threw just 30 pitches before Friday’s game was washed out, but instead of using him in Looper’s place Tuesday in Houston, Macha is essentially counting the rainout as a missed start and using Gallardo on his regular day.

“This will be almost like he’s missing a turn,” Macha said. “You know what? if you just look at the short term you probably say, that’s a tough thing to do. But I think long-term, it will be good for him. He’s got some innings right now, and he’s also had some stressful innings. He pitched five innings a couple of times and had 100 pitches, and those are some stressful innings. I think, in the long run, you have to look long-term as opposed to short-term.”

Replay used for first time at Miller Park

Brewers starter Braden Looper was spared two runs when instant replay was used for the first time at Miller Park on Wednesday night.

The Brewers had an 8-5 lead in the top of the sixth inning when Marlins pinch-hitter Ross Gload connected on a Braden Looper pitch for what first base umpire Bruce Dreckman called a two-run home run down the right-field line. Prince Fielder, playing first base for the Brewers, immediately objected, and crew chief Gary Darling gathered the umps before ducking into the tunnel behind home plate.

Darling emerged just two minutes later with a new call: Foul ball. Gload eventually struck out to end the inning.

A home run was also overturned in tonight’s Pirates-Cardinals game via instant replay. If you’re interested in reading more about how the process works, see MLB.com’s story from last August. There are links in that piece to other instances of replay in effect.
 

Brewers look to keep streaking vs. Pirates

The Brewers have won 12 in a row over the Pirates, the longest active winning streak in the Majors by one team over another. They have also won 15 in a row at home against Pittsburgh, which is also the longest active streak in the majors. Braden Looper will look to extend those streaks to 13 and 16 games tonight.

The lineups:

PIRATES
Nyjer Morgan  CF
Freddy Sanchez  2B
Craig Monroe  LF
Adam LaRoche  1B
Eric Hinske  RF
Andy LaRoche  3B
Jason Jaramillo  C
Brian Bixler  SS
Jeff Karstens  RHP

BREWERS
Rickie Weeks  2B
Corey Hart  RF
Ryan Braun  LF
Prince Fielder  1B
Mike Cameron  CF
J.J. Hardy  SS
Bill Hall  3B
Jason Kendall  C
Braden Looper  RHP

Here’s another statistical nugget from the Brewers: Since the start of 2006, Looper is 11-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 24 April appearances, 14 of them starts. Only two pitchers have more April wins over that span: Toronto’s Roy Halliday (13) and Boston’s Josh Beckett (12).
 

Hoffman will need more than 15 DL days

SAN FRANCISCO — It did not exactly qualify as a surprise when Brewers manager Ken Macha said Sunday that closer Trevor Hoffman will not be ready to come off the disabled list when his term expires on Saturday.

Hoffman, who has not pitched since March 13 because of a strained muscle on his right side, played catch on Friday and Saturday and then took Sunday off. He will play catch again on Monday, when the Brewers take part in a 4 p.m. CT workout at AT&T Park as their final tune-up for Tuesday’s season opener.

Assuming he makes it through that session without a setback, the Brewers’ athletic training staff may devise a schedule for Hoffman to throw off a mound, then to face hitters, then perhaps to head out for a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. The process could run a few more weeks.

“Will he be ready on the 11th?” Macha said, referring to the date Hoffman is eligible to come off the DL. “Probably not. … Let’s wait until he gets on a mound, OK? I went through this whole thing with [oft-injured Oakland A’s starter Rich] Harden. I think the best you can do is wait until he gets on the mound and then start looking at what the possibilities are.”

The Brewers’ other offseason free agent pick-up, starter Braden Looper, also dealt with a side strain in Spring Training but is on track to start the season in the rotation. He threw 89 pitches in a Minor League intrasquad game in Phoenix on Sunday under the watch of Brewers bullpen coach Stan Kyles.

Looper is slated to start April 10 against the Cubs in Milwaukee’s home opener.

“He went to six innings, but it was hard to get a grip on some of the innings because he stayed out there more than three outs to get his pitch count in,” said Macha, who received a report from Kyles via e-mail. “He said he felt like he could go more, no problem. Stan said he did leave some split-fingers [split-fingered fastballs] up in the zone, but the hitters didn’t take advantage of it. All in all, [Looper] felt pretty good, so that’s encouraging.”

Kyles and Looper should re-join the team on Monday, when the Brewers have a more standard afternoon workout. They were forced to a late start Sunday [8:30 p.m. CT] because the Giants and Dodgers played an afternoon exhibition game.

For a time, Giants officials balked at the Brewers’ late workout request and Milwaukee officials were scrambling to identify alternatives. Macha did not want his team to sit idle until Tuesday after arriving from Los Angeles following Saturday’s game at Dodger Stadium.

“I just wanted to come out here and do something because of the two days off,” Macha said. “I don’t think you can go through all of Spring Training and all of a sudden sit down and do nothing for two days, then start it up again.”

Parra passes final test

No. 3 starter Manny Parra pitched a Minor League Spring Training game today to allow all seven Brewers relievers to work an inning against the Dodgers, and he got through the outing just fine. Parra worked 4 2/3 innings against the Angels’ Triple-A club, allowing two runs, one of them earned, on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts.

Brewers manager Ken Macha said Parra threw 73 pitches, while the box score (h/t to the guys at Brewerfan.net, who do an awesome job of tracking what’s up down on the farm) had him at 75. Either way, Parra got his work in and is in line to start Thursday against the Giants.

Braden Looper is also back in Arizona and will pitch Sunday in an intrasquad game at Maryvale Baseball Park before joining the team in San Francisco. He isn’t scheduled to pitch until Friday against the Cubs in Milwaukee’s home opener.

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